In Rules versus Relationships, John M. Conley and William M. O'Barr examine the experiences of litigants seeking redress of everyday difficulties through the small claims courts of the American legal system. The authors find two major and contrasting ways in which litigants formulate and express their problems in terms of specific rule violations and seek concrete legal remedies that would mend soured relationships and respond to their personal and social needs.
John M. Conley is professor of law at the University of North Carolina. William M. O'Barr is professor of cultural anthropology and sociology at Duke University and is author of Linguistic Evidence. They are codirectors of the Duke University/University of North Carolina Law and Language Project.